● Trans-Aire actively
promoted the “Buy American” approach to radio sales. Using foreign parts
for U.S. assembly, many Trans-Aire radios were stamped “Made in the U.S.A.”
Hong Kong manufactured radios used transistor “fallouts” labeled “Made in
● During the 1960s, many
radio manufacturers touted the number of transistors used in a radio as a
marketing benefit, with the unstated assumption that more transistors is an
indication of higher performance. One interesting result of this approach
is that some companies would increase the transistor count in a radio by
installing “dummy” or un-connected transistors on the circuit board, and
include these non-functional devices in the total transistor count.
Another approach would be to use only two leads of a transistor (making it
a diode) and still include in the count. Trans-Aire used techniques such
as these in some of their 1960s radio models.
● Another important
factor in Trans-Aire’s success during the very difficult transistor radio
business conditions of the 1950s/60s was the experienced senior engineering
staff at the company. Three names of note are: (1) Erich Gottleib, chief
engineer, and former GE consultant and developer of the radio circuits in
the GE Transistor Manuals, (2) Leonard D’Airo, RF engineer, and author of
numerous 1960s industry transistor articles and (3) Roland Wittenburg, who
was a Trans-Aire principal and founder, and who had previous transistor
engineering experience at the Radio Receptor company.
Shown above is a section
of a package insert for a mid 1960s Saxony transistor radio. As noted
earlier, Saxony was one of the Trans-Aire house brands, and the “Trans-Aire
Electronics Inc” corporate logo appears at the upper left of this insert.
In addition, the text “By Trans-Aire” appears as a small logo on the actual
radio front plate, just below the Saxony name. This specific radio is well
made, uses six “fallout” germanium transistors (four of these are GE
tophats), and still plays well after almost 40 years. All six transistors
are connected and functioning as transistors. A schematic is pasted to the inside
back case, and is marked “Printed in U.S.A.” The back of the plastic radio
case is stamped “Made in U.S.A.” and two of the transistors have paper
labels with part numbers and the text “Made in U.S.A.” This is a classic
Trans-Aire 1960s radio!
To D'Airo Oral History, Page 3